BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Travel from the eastern edges of Brooklyn to its center is about to speed up.
On July 3, B46 bus service will transition to one of the city’s new select bus service lines which are designed to reduce travel time by having riders pay before boarding and setting aside special lanes.
B46 local buses will now serve Williamsburg Bridge Plaza and all local stops on Broadway 24 hours a day while the B46 SBS will operate from Malcolm X Blvd and DeKalb Ave to Kings Plaza, the busiest portion of the route, DOT spokeswoman Gloria Chin said.
“This will open up doors for people who maybe live in an area that isn’t well served and now they’re going to have a better option,” said Nick Sifuentes, the deputy director of Riders Alliance, a public transit advocacy group.
The eight-mile thoroughfare, which runs from Bed-Stuy to Marine Park, has the third busiest bus route in the city and the busiest route in Brooklyn. The area is not directly served by any trains, so area residents rely on cars and the bus service.
Commute time for 46,000 straphangers who use the line daily will be cut, according to the MTA. In one portion of the street that has had a designated bus lane since 2014, travel time decreased between eight and 15 percent for buses and 20 to 25 percent for other vehicles.
Part of the speed boost for buses comes from sensors that signal traffic lights to either stay green or switch to green to cut down on idle time at intersections.
The NYPD will enforce the bus lane with cameras after a 60 day grace period during which drivers will just get a warning, Chin said.
The bus line provides crucial connections to 30 other bus routes and to five subway lines — the 3, 4, A, C and J trains. The B46 SBS will replace the B46 Limited and will operate from 6:08 a.m. to 10:42 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekends.
Some area residents voiced concerns that converting a lane to be used solely for a bus would create a constant traffic snarl along the length of the bus route.
The bus lane eliminated the left-turn only lane at several intersections, said Dorothy Turano, district manager for Community Board 18. Area drivers have already dealt with backups caused by the installation of bus lane cameras.
"Only time will tell," Turano said. "All I can tell you is that as problems arise, we will meet the challenge to monitor and correct them."
Without buses pulling in and out of normal traffic lanes to make stops, travel time should actually speed up for drivers, Sifuentes said.
Many drivers will also switch to using the SBS bus when they realize that it actually works, he said. Many of the residents Riders Alliance spoke to in the area over the months leading up to the new bus service said they only had cars because there was no good local-transit option.
Customer ambassadors will line the route for the first two weeks to explain the new system and assist riders with purchasing tickets before boarding. The transition should be an easy one, said Pete Donohue, TWU Local 100 spokesman.
"New Yorkers generally adjust, speaking from the passenger side," Donohue said.
"It’s not rocket science and it’s not pushing the edge and the envelope anymore. These things have become pretty routine — it’s just a matter of educating the riders that this is the new fare system."